Statistics Canada has released a study citing a 20% year-over-year increase in the cost of baby formula, while new parents report the product becoming more scarce. Between September 2022 and September 2023, the cost of a container of formula rose from $31 to more than $38, which is “almost five times more than the average food product since March 2022,” Dalhousie University food policy researcher Sylvain Charlebois told the CBC. Statistics Canada attributes the shortage to a manufacturer's delay at Abbott Nutrition in February 2022 that lasted for several months and resulted in a product recall due to potential contamination. Charlebois asserts the shortage and inflated price are due to Canada's dwindling birth rate, adding private investors are no longer interested in formula manufacturing in Canada. Health Canada instated a temporary policy, which has now been extended to December 2024, making importing baby formula easier from other countries as long as they had “similar manufacturing standards to Canada's.”The government health institution said increasing domestic production “could help to alleviate the limited supply” and will work with companies interested in doing so to better understand the regulatory processes. .Ashleigh Ottley, a new mother, told CBC News she has had to curb spending in other areas of her budget to be able to provide for her son. She also explained how it has become more difficult to find the formula her baby needs at stores such as Walmart and her friends and family in other provinces send her whatever supply they can find. Ottley said the uptick in costs have hurt those who can afford it the least — and costs her more than $280 each month."It's rough. I'm spending $70 a week, when I could be putting that money in a gas tank, Ottley said. “At what point do you stop calling it a shortage because it's been so long?" Meanwhile, Walmart says it’s doing its “absolute best” to make baby formula more affordable and outright denies any shortage. In fact, it says stock has increased 90% since last year. “In the face of ongoing global, industry-wide supply challenges with baby formula and other market pressures — including double-digit price increases from suppliers over the last two years — we continue to do our absolute best every day to make it easier for customers to find formula on a budget,” a statement released by the retail giant reads. "Despite these challenges, we have about 90% more inventory in stores compared to the same time last year."